Romelu Lukaku has hit back at Gary Neville for calling him unprofessional and overweight following the sour end to his two-year stay at Manchester United.
Belgium international Lukaku left Old Trafford for Inter in early August after falling to the fringes of the first team under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The former Chelsea and Everton striker hit 27 competitive goals in his first season with United but the level of his performances tailed off last term amid concerns over his conditioning.
Former captain Neville enthusiastically welcomed his departure, writing "unprofessionalism is contagious" in a social media post referencing Lukaku, who believes the criticism is unjustified.
"Don't question my professionalism," Lukaku told the BBC .
'I try to do everything to improve'
"I live for this game. I am at home all the time. I try to do everything to improve. [Neville] can talk about my fitness but he should never say anything about my professionalism, that I don't work hard enough. That is something he cannot say. All the coaches I have had say the same thing about me.
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"What did Ole Gunnar Solskjaer say when I was on the training ground? What did he say? That I always work hard and always do my best to try and improve myself. Same with Jose Mourinho and Roberto Martinez. Now Antonio Conte will say it."
Lukaku admitted last season was a "bad year" for him but holds no ill towards manager Solskjaer after the pair agreed it was time to part ways. Negotiations over a proposed move to Inter dragged on until the Serie A side upped its offer to a reported EUR 80 million.
"Me and Ole tried to work together but at one point I had to be honest with him. He was also honest with me," the 26-year-old said.
"We found an agreement. I wanted to go. He understood why I wanted to go. It is something I will always be grateful to him for. We had a conversation man to man. I told him how I felt and he understood. He will always get massive respect from me and massive protection."
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